Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Top 5: Ultimate JRPG Swords

I am a fierce advocate of Top 5 lists.  They are, in my humble opinion, an ideal way to express one's views and tastes in an outlined and organized view.  They are also featured prominently in my #3 movie of all time, High Fidelity.  But mainly it's that first part.

I'm also a lifelong fan of RPGs.  One element found in this genre--especially JRPGs--is some sort of 'ultimate weapon.'  There are sometimes multiple ultimate weapons in a game, one for each character, but most are in the form of swords.  I took the liberty of compiling my list of favorite powerful blades.  Really, this should be called 'Top 5 Ultimate Swords in a JRPG'...but that's a tad lengthy.

5. Vorlik Blade (Skies of Arcadia)
Skies of Arcadia is a game that will always hold a spot in my heart, despite being rather hard to sit through these days.  It pushed exploration like almost no other JRPG before it--in fact, you obtain your airship within the first twenty minutes of the game.  The main character--Vyse, of the Blue Rogue sky pirates--is a lovable, albeit flawed main protagonist.  Being all pirate-y and all, it's no small wonder why Vyse uses a cutlass as his signature weapon.  The best one you could obtain for him in the original release of the title was the Vorlik Blade.

Balthier, eat your heart out.

There's a reason why I love this blade so much.  Without getting all spoiler-y, to obtain the metal necessary in forging it you are required to fly to a place that--in any other ship than the one you use--your crew would be instantly destroyed by the severity of the environment's conditions.

4. Ultima Weapon (Final Fantasy VII)
I tried really, really hard to limit the amount of Final Fantasy weaponry that would make it onto this list--but it doing so was inevitable really.  You can't talk about the Top 5 anything in the JRPG realm without FF rearing its spiky, anime-inspired head at least once.

The Ultima Weapon first appeared in its current form in Final Fantasy VII, as an enormous blue and white blade.  The sword is enormous, even for Cloud, whose fame is built upon wielding realistically impossible blades.

Pictured: Imminent death.

Because of its unique design and legendarily high attack power, the Ultima Weapon has become one of the most easily identifiable blades in RPG history.  Personally, I love how it looks like an enormous white-hot flame.  The sword is reiterated in other Final Fantasy titles, and Squeenix IPs at large.  For instance, protagonist/scene kid Squall of Final Fantasy VIII wields a remarkably similar blade, albeit in a different shape and entitled Lionheart.

3. Mana Sword (Mana/Seiken Densetsu series)
It's one thing for a game to revolve around a specific holy sword.  That's almost a given for any prominent JRPG/RPG in general.  However, when an entire franchise tells the legends and stories of one particular blade, said blade deserves special attention.  The Mana Sword of Secret of Mana fame is a magically imbued sword capable of wreaking great destruction or bring fantastic miracles to the wielder, depending on who its wielder is.

What's interesting about the Mana Sword (in Secret of Mana anyway--different entries in the series feature it in different ways) is that you have it literally for 99.9% of the game.  That Rusty Sword you pull from the stone at the behest of the mysterious ghost in the game's outset? Yup, that's the relic that'll either doom or redeem civilization.  You're told that pretty early on in the game, believe it or not, as one of your main goals is to power it up.

2. Rainbow Sword (Chrono Trigger)
Crono didn't need any more help getting to be one of the biggest badasses in RPG history.  Without a single word, he united a team of history's greatest heroes and saved the world from an alien entity.  What then, is a fitting ultimate blade for the savior of time and space?

The world will know no pain like that from the power of rainbows.

That's right, folks.  A katana made out of a rainbow.  Granted, its primary material is that of an ancient hunk of metal called the 'rainbow shell', but still.  Once you obtain it in-game, watch as your pathetic enemies crumble and flee at the sight of the power of the rainbow.  Specifically, your critical hit ratio goes through the roof.

1. Sol Blade (Golden Sun series)
Maybe a bit of an obscure one, but please take this into consideration--

How'd you like a space boulder to the face?!

Because seriously, what better way to completely smite an enemy than to drop a freakin' meteor on them?  It's unfair enough to random enemies that by the time this blade is obtained, all of your characters are ridiculously powerful.  And this blade can only be wielded by one of the two main protagonists (in The Lost Age), meaning its user is going to have a physical attack stat through the roof.  So yeah, let's call it good by giving the Sol Blade's wielder the power to summon an Armageddon--through a regular attack. The Sol Blade was the ultimate sword of Golden Sun: The Lost Age and its sequel, Dark Dawn.  A wonderful eccentricity unique of this series of games is that weapons can sometimes unleash a spell instead of using a regular attack.  In the Sol Blade's case, said unleash is an extraterrestrial rock that takes up the entire screen.

What are your top 5 JRPG swords? Leave a comment and have a chat!


  1. Not familiar with Skies of Arcadia, but I'd recognize all the other swords anywhere! Great choices for the list and couldn't agree more.

    On a side note, The Monado in Xenoblade Chronicles is quickly becoming a new JRPG favourite of mine.

    1. Thanks! If you're into JRPGs then I'd highly recommend Skies of Arcadia. It debuted on the Dreamcast and is therefore fairly hard to find, but it was ported to the Gamecube a few years later... :)

      The Monado, eh? Xenoblade Chronicles is definitely on my list of games to pick up this year, so it looks like I may be amending this article. Plus we've still got The Last Story to look forward to!